Because Our Manhattan is focused on taxes, infrastruct-ure and responsible growth, we endorse and fully support John Ball and Bob Strawn for City Commission. Of the seven candidates seeking your vote, John and Bob have proven they have the leadership and man-agement skills that we need to deal with our city’s unsustain-able debt and growing burden of taxation, while maintaining our infrastructure and encouraging responsible growth.
The City of Manhattan is saddled with a debt of $268 million. While the current commission has taken measures to slow the growth of the debt, it has not been able to reverse the trend, which is rapidly moving toward the debt limit of $300 million. This situation mirrors that of the federal government and, unchecked, will produce the same con-sequences. The mill levy increases are just one example of what will happen if the issue is not dealt with in a responsible and decisive manner.
We understand that revenue (money) is necessary to fund the necessary services provided by government, and that revenue is derived from taxes. Taxes paid in the form of property tax, sales tax, franchise fees and license fees must pay for essential services and efficient govern-ment. Our city commissioners must be prepared to make difficult choices. It is their duty to identify critical needs and separate them from “nice to have” wants promoted by inter-est groups. Our next commis-sioners must have the com-petence to identify those needs and the courage to champion the interest of the entire community, especially those who bear the burden of paying for our government. John Ball and Bob Strawn have proven that they can and will.
The next City Commission will face a number of challenges, but it will also have the opportunity to move our city forward. With responsible leadership, Man-hattan will continue its steady growth, infrastructure will be maintained (fix the potholes), while the mill levy (property taxes) remains steady. A City Commission that acts with fortitude can reduce the general obligation debt by at least $1 million a year while maintaining our roads and other essential infrastructure. Spending less than it borrows, the city can support growth projects like a new facility for Parks and Recreation. However, choices have to be made. Expanding the airport runway and a new airport terminal, operating the airport tower (if the federal government elects to withdraw its support of our airport), a Parks and Recreation facility, field house, library expansion and perhaps a regional welcome center are all expensive, and each will compete for funding. It is unwise and unrealistic to believe that sales taxes alone will fund all of these projects. In the last three months, sales tax receipts have gone down. The alternative of continuing to borrow to pay for projects will ensure a perpetuation of our debt burden far into the future. It is time we elected com-missioners who know how to set priorities and who understand that the money to pay for these projects comes from citizens who work hard to earn that money.
Our Manhattan endorses and fully supports John Ball and Bob Strawn. They have the vision and, most important, the courage to do the job. Each has the private and public sector experience to evaluate options and make sound decisions based on the cost benefit of projects. In particular, they will look out for the interest of those on fixed incomes who are in danger of being forced out of their homes by sky-rocketing property taxes.
John and Bob understand that city government should work for the citizens, not the other way around. They will ensure that we get the services we pay for: well-maintained streets, essential social services and a citizen-friendly city staff. They will establish conditions that will attract new business to our community in a cost-effective and equitable manner. Most important, they will not con-demn our children to pay the debts incurred by spending beyond our means.
Please join Our Manhattan in voting for John Ball and Bob Strawn on April 2.
Paid for by Our Manhattan Political Action Committee; John Ford, chairman, Rob Friesen, treasurer.